Preparing for Law School

What can I do to prepare for law school as an undergrad?

If you are considering a career in law, then during your undergraduate years, you should develop your intellectual abilities as much as possible, while also exploring whether your initial interest in the law is sufficient to carry you on through law school and a law or law-related career. The best preparation for law school is simply to get the best education you can: there is no specific major that you must choose, no specific set of courses that you must include.

In whatever major you choose, it is important to develop skill sets that will be valuable in law school and as a lawyer.

  • Learn to write cogently, to analyze carefully and accurately, to reason logically, and to speak effectively and articulately are all important skills. These are the skills law schools are looking for in applicants, as they will be crucial to your success in law school and as an attorney. 
  • It doesn't matter whether you develop these skills by analyzing political institutions, metaphysical arguments, underlying syntactic structures, or molecular structures; what matters is that you learn to use your mind effectively in a range of intellectual domains.
  • Look for courses that demand a considerable amount of challenging reading and writing, especially small classes and seminars which can give you opportunities to develop your speaking ability. It is also vital to build strong relationships with a few faculty members who can write detailed recommendations for you.

Gain Exposure to the Legal Profession

Northwestern Externship Program (NEXT): Northwestern alums offer current Northwestern students the opportunity to shadow them at their place of work for one or more days and gain insight into the practical aspects of potential future careers.

Chicago Field Studies: This NU based program coordinates full-time internships for credit in legal fields, as well as part-time internships in social justice, civic engagement, and community research, among other programs.  An internship through CFS can be a great way to learn about a law-related field, gain work experience, and link your academic and professional interests.

Northwestern University School of Law:  Our own law school in downtown Chicago serves as a valuable resource for our undergraduate students who want to learn what law school is like first hand. Call the Admissions Office at 312-503-8465 to schedule a visit to tour the school, sit in on a class, and speak with law students.

Internships and Volunteering Opportunities:  Make an appointment with a NCA counselor to discuss your options based on your specific interests.  Some organizations to explore include the Center on Wrongful Convictions, The Blum Legal Aid Clinic, and various non-profits in the Chicagoland area.

Informational Interviewing:  Talking with current attorneys can not only help you crystalize your decision to pursue law school, but can also provide you with valuable networking opportunities.  Find an attorney in every specialty using Our Northwestern. Visit the following link to access Our Northwestern. For a guide on Informational Interviewing, visit the Informational Interviewing link.

Join a Student or Professional Organization

Northwestern Mock Trial Team:  A nationally competitive team in the American Mock Trial Association. Tryouts are held each October, and tryout materials are provided for prospective members. For more information, including contact information for team officers, visit the Mock Trial Team website.

Phi Alpha Delta Pre-law Fraternity:  Northwestern’s chapter of the national co-ed organization for undergraduate students interested in law. Information on the national organization is also available online.

Each program has its own requirements and deadlines.